0705-Overview of the Epistemology and Thought Project

Paper presented at a workshop in Istanbul on 3rd May 2007 by Dr Omar Hasan Kasule MB ChB (MUK), MPH (Harvard), DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Epidemiology and Islamic Medicine at Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Visiting Professor of Epidemiology at Universiti Malaya


1.0 The problems

1.1 Two main problems: The present project starts from the assertion that 2 internal factors, a knowledge crisis and a thought crisis, are major causes of ummatic weakness. These 2 factors combine to lead to ummatic malaise manifesting in the religious, social, political, economic, technological, and military dimensions.

1.2 Addressing the knowledge crisis: The knowledge crisis shall be addressed by reforming education systems and even more important by reforming the epistemology and methodology of each major discipline of knowledge to conforms to the paradigms of tauhid and objectivity, istiqamat. The disciplines to be covered are: education (pedagogy and andragogy), social sciences and humanities (sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, historiography, literature, communication, jurisprudence, etc), natural sciences and technology (life and health disciplines, engineering, architecture, economics, etc).

1.3 Addressing the thought crisis: The thought crisis will be resolved by research that identifies and defines local issues of each country or community and then proposed solutions based on the bird-eye view frame-work of the higher purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at.


2.0 The intellectual tasks

2.1 Seminars: On the practical level, academic seminars need to be held in many places and involving all Muslim intellectuals to discuss the 2 crises. Two types of seminars can be held. General seminars 1-day will introduce the problem and motivate the intellectuals to make contributions. Specialized 1-day seminars will bring together 3-5 specialists in each discipline at a time to present fully written papers on given topics followed by deep and serious discussion after which the authors can revise the papers and have them published online for wide and immediate access with printed versions being made available later.

2.2 Reviews: Books and articles written on epistemology and thought in other parts of the world can be made accessible by local intellectuals writing reviews that incorporate commentaries that reflect local problems. These reviews can also be published online for wider access. A measure of success will be the number of seminars held and the total number of online publications


3.0 Logistic tasks

3.1 Website: A project website shall be set up in each of country or region and will have basic guiding writings on epistemology and thought. It will be used to announce academic activities, register and follow up participants, and publish proceedings of seminars immediately. It will also have links to websites with similar interests.

3.2 Office: A physical office is not necessary except where the volume of work warrants. If an office is needed, preference will be given to mortgaging a building in a sub-urban area accessible by public transport and with space for parking. A contact person will be needed in a city to coordinate the intellectual activities which shall be hosted at university facilities as far as possible.

3.3 Budget: because of the requirement to hold many seminars the budget of each seminar has to be limited to basically providing refreshments. Transport costs will be minimized by holding only local seminars; it is better to go to where participants stay than to collect them in a central place.

3.4 Initial cities of activity: In Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur and Khota Bharu. In Indonesia Jakarta and Jogjakarta. In the Philippines: Manila. In Thailand: Bangkok. In Bangladesh: Dhakka and Chittagong. In Sri Lanka: Colombo.

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. May 2007